H.K. Disneyland Shuts Down After Single Covid-19 Case, Weeks After Same Move By Shanghai Park

H.K. Disneyland Shuts Down After Single Covid-19 Case, Weeks After Same Move By Shanghai Park

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Topline

Hong Kong Disneyland shut down for the day Wednesday after a visitor at the park Sunday tested positive for Covid-19, just weeks after Shanghai Disneyland temporarily shuttered over a single case, in a sharp contrast to the U.S., where Disney’s theme parks have lifted social distancing measures and remained open through local Covid-19 surges.

Visitors take a selfie at Hong Kong Disneyland on June 18, 2020.

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Key Facts

Hong Kong Disneyland said it closed Wednesday out of “an abundance of caution” so that affected employees can be tested for Covid-19 “sooner,” with CNN reporting the park was closed after a visitor tested preliminary positive for Covid-19.

The Hong Kong government, which owns a majority stake in the theme park, directed any visitors at the park Sunday between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to take a Covid-19 test by Thursday.

The closure comes less than three weeks after Shanghai Disneyland shut down for several days after a visitor on October 30 tested positive for Covid-19, according to local health officials cited by CNN.

The Shanghai case also resulted in park guests and staff getting locked inside the theme park on October 31 after it was discovered until everyone—nearly 34,000 people—could be tested.

Hong Kong and mainland China are using aggressivemeasures to eliminate coronavirus, and both theme parks mandate mask-wearing, temperature checks and physical distancing.

Contra

The strict measures at Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland—which, like Hong Kong, is also majority owned by the government—are in sharp contrast to Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the U.S. Disney has relaxed most of its social distancing measures at those parks in recent months, though some measures like indoor mask mandates are still in place. Disney has also mandated vaccines for its U.S. employees. After Walt Disney World and Disneyland reopened to guests in July 2020 and April 2021, respectively, the parks have remained open even when local cases in Florida and California have surged, such as during the delta variant surge in Florida over the summer. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in an August earnings call during the delta surge that the U.S. parks would continue reopening and expanding their capacity despite the rise in cases.

Chief Critics

Hong Kong’s aggressive measures to control the spread of Covid-19 have been criticized by some in the business community for being overly stringent. JP Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said Monday he believed Hong Kong’s strict quarantine policies—which Dimon himself was able to avoid—were making it harder for his company to retain talent there, Bloomberg reported, and the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong announced her resignation earlier this week over difficulties with the quarantine requirements. 

Key Background

Hong Kong Disneyland has suffered a series of temporary closures throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, some lasting for months at a time, but before Wednesday had been open since February. Shanghai Disneyland was the first Disney theme park to close due to the pandemic in January 2020, but was also the first to reopen in May of that year as cases in China went down. Every Disney theme park in the world—including in the U.S., Japan and France—was shuttered at some point during the Covid-19 pandemic, and June of this year marked the first time that all Disney theme parks were open worldwide since January 2020. Disney’s theme park revenue plunged as a result of the closures, with operating income in its Parks, Experiences and Products division going down by $6.9 billion in fiscal year 2020 as compared with the year before. The company’s revenue has started to rebound as parks have reopened, however, with Disney’s theme park division becoming profitable again in the third quarter of 2021 for the first time since the pandemic began.

Further Reading

Suspected Covid case closes Hong Kong Disneyland (CNN)

China locks down Shanghai Disneyland and tests 34,000 visitors after single Covid case (The  Guardian)

Halloween Covid scare forces Shanghai Disney into lockdown as China steps up efforts to eradicate virus (CNN)

In Photos: All Disney Parks Now Open Again Worldwide (Forbes)

Disney Theme Parks Will Continue To Reopen And Increase Capacity Despite Delta Variant Surge, CEO Says — Including In Florida (Forbes)

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**** Please visit the themeparks official websites for their latest guidelines and openings ****

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